The making of the concentrate is the first step in the production of a carbonated soft drink. At the beginnings of the industry, in the nineteenth century, both concentrate and soft drink were manufactured in the same facility. Sometimes the concentrate was sold to the consumers, who would make their own soft drinks. As the carbonated soft drink business has grown, the concentrate and the soft drink manufacturing have become specialized. Today, a concentrate manufacturing plant sells its product to various bottling companies.
Concentrate plants are constantly optimizing their operation through systems automation. As the demand for concentrate increases, automation has allowed the manufacturer to satisfy the demand without expanding the size of the manufacturing plant. Packaging size has increased too. Early in the industry, 1/2-, 1- and 5-gallon containers were the most common. Today 40- and 50-gallon drums and even tank trucks with capacities of 3,000 to 4,000 gallons are used.
Operations in a concentrate manufacturing plant can be divided into five basic processes:
- treating water
- receiving raw materials
- concentrate manufacturing
- concentrate and additives filling
- shipping finished products.
Each of these processes has safety hazards that must be evaluated and controlled. Water is a very important ingredient in the concentrate and it must have excellent quality. Each concentrate plant treats water until it reaches the desired quality and is free from micro-organisms. Water treatment is monitored during all stages.
When the plant receives the compounding ingredients, inspection, sampling and analysing of the ingredients in the quality-control department are begun. Only materials that have passed the tests will be used in the concentrate manufacturing process. Some of the raw materials are received in tank trucks and require special handling. Also, packaging material is received, evaluated and analysed in the same way as the raw materials.
During the manufacturing of concentrate, treated water and liquid and solid ingredients are pumped into stainless-steel tanks, where they are mixed, homogenized and/or extracted in accordance with the manufacturing instructions. The tanks have capacities of 50 gallons, 10,000 gallons and even more. These tanks are completely clean and sanitized at the time of mixing.
Once the concentrate is manufactured, the filling stage is started. All the products are piped into the filling room. Filling machines are strictly cleaned and sanitized before the filling process starts. Most of the filling machines are dedicated to specific container sizes. The product is kept inside pipes and tanks at times during the filling process in order to avoid contamination. Each container should be labelled with the product name and handling hazards (if necessary). Full containers are moved by conveyors to the packaging area. Containers are placed on pallets and wrapped in plastic or tied before they are stored. Besides the concentrates, additives to be used in the preparation of carbonated soft drinks are packed. Many of these additives are packed in plastic bags and placed in boxes.
Once at the warehouse, the products are divided and prepared to be sent to the different bottling companies. These products should be labelled following all government regulations. If products are going to another country, the product must be labelled in accordance with the other country’s labelling requirements.
Production of fruit juices
Fruit juices are made from a wide variety of fruits, including oranges and other citrus fruits, apples, grapes, cranberries, pineapples, mangoes and so forth. In many cases, various fruit juices are blended. Usually, the fruit is processed into a concentrate near where it is grown, then shipped to a fruit juice packager. Fruit juices can be sold as concentrates, frozen concentrates (especially orange juice) and as the diluted juice. Often sugar and preservatives are added.
Once received at the processing plant, the oranges are washed, graded to remove damaged fruit, separated according to size and sent to the juice extractors. There the oils are extracted from the peel, and then the juice extracted by crushing. The pulpy juice is screened to remove seeds and pulp, which often end up as cattle feed. If the orange juice is intended for sale as “not from concentrate”, it is then pasteurized. Otherwise the juice is sent to evaporators, which remove most of the water by heat and vacuum, then chilled, to produce the frozen, concentrated orange juice. This process also removes many oils and essences which are blended back into the concentrate before shipping to the juice packager.
The frozen concentrate is shipped to the packager in refrigerated trucks or tankers. Many dairies package orange juice using the same equipment used to package milk. (See the article “Dairy products industry” elsewhere in this volume.) The concentrate is diluted with filtered water, pasteurized and packaged under sterile conditions. Depending on the amount of water added, the final product can be cans of frozen orange juice concentrate or ready-to-serve orange juice.
Hazards in a concentrate manufacturing plant vary depending on the products manufactured and the size of the plant.
Concentrate plants have a low injury rate due to a high degree of automation and mechanized handling. Materials are handled by fork-lifts, and full containers are placed on pallets by automatic palletizers. Although, employees generally do not have to use excessive force to get the job done, lifting related injuries remain a concern. Major hazards include engines and equipment in motion, objects falling from overhead containers, energy hazards in repair and maintenance, confined space hazards in cleaning mixing tanks, noise, fork-lift accidents and hazardous chemical cleaning agents. See the article “Soft drink bottling and canning” for more information on hazards and precautions.